Keeping safe through Covid-19

General guidelines 

We asked carers what they learned during the first lockdown. Their advice is practical and sensible :

  • stay safe by following guidance about hygiene including wearing masks when out of the house;
  • ensure medications and supplies are up to date, and keep them up to date;
  • have extra supplies of food and items you use most often;
  • buy a few extra items each grocery shop (specials for example) so if there is a sudden lockdown (as Auckland experienced in August) you won’t worry;
  • have a plan so that if services, support visits, school etc are disrupted, you are prepared;
  • don’t put off medical, dental, or other visits – stay up to date so you can more easily ride through a lockdown;
  • think about the ‘what ifs’: what help is available and how can you access help in new ways in a lockdown.

We are worried about carers who have come through the changing alert levels while supporting a family member or friend. We know many of you are tired, and things still aren’t back to ‘normal’. Many of you have also expressed that because of your circumstances, the lockdowns have felt no different from your everyday life. If you are struggling, talk to us – we can offer a listening ear and a helping hand where possible: 0800 777 797 or email

Stay home if you’re sick. Isolate wherever you are and call Healthline about a free COVID-19 test. By getting a test, you’re helping keep your community safe.

It is mandatory for public transport, businesses and workplaces to display QR codes for contact tracing. Good hygiene and contact tracing practices have helped contain the spread of COVID-19 | KOWHEORI-19 so far. If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, please stay home and call Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor for advice about getting tested. Remember, it is free to get tested.

Find out more from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has the virus, you can expect calls from Ministry of Health and Healthline. It is important to answer your phone. Find out how to recognise a call from the Ministry or Healthline at Contact tracing

How to get a vaccination

Find out when you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and how to book your vaccination appointments.

Contact tracing keeps us safe

Use the Covid Tracer app. Scan QR codes everywhere you go, and turn on Bluetooth tracing. The more we scan the safer we’ll be.

If you want to use the app but are concerned about data usage, you may want to wait until you’re connected to WiFi before you download the app.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, the ongoing data usage is minimal.  A very small amount of data is used when you register your contact information or when your phone checks for contact alerts.

It is critical to keep track of where you’ve been and the COVID Tracer app is an easy way to do this. Please continue to scan QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the dashboard of the NZ COVID Tracer app. Scanning QR codes allows us to create a private record of the places we’ve been, while Bluetooth creates an anonymised record of the people we’ve been near. Both are important for contact tracing.

COVID-19 Tracer App information can be found here: NZ COVID Tracer app | Unite against COVID-19

Public transport guidelines

For current public transport guidelines, please refer to Auckland Transport if you are travelling within Auckland, and the Ministry of Transport for general information when using public transport in NZ.

Using public transport in Auckland

Wearing a face covering while using public transport in Auckland is mandatory. Cash is not accepted, customers will have to tag on / off with their AT / HOP card. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from wearing a face covering. People with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face unsuitable do not have to wear face coverings also. There will be other times when it is not required – such as in an emergency, if unsafe, if people need to prove their identity or to communicate with someone who is deaf, or if required by law. Drivers of taxis and ride-shares in Auckland legally must wear a face covering. If you’re a passenger in a taxi or ride-share, we encourage you to wear a face covering.

Domestic flights nationwide

You also legally must wear a face covering when you’re travelling on a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand — this does not include private flights.

Information on masks: Alert Level 1

Wearing a face covering while using public transport in Auckland is mandatory. Cash is not accepted, customers will have to tag on / off with their AT / HOP card. Drivers of taxis and ride-shares in Auckland legally must wear a face covering as well. If you’re a passenger in a taxi or ride-share, we encourage you to wear a face covering.

You also legally must wear a face covering when you’re travelling on a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand — this does not include private flights.

In other situations, at Alert Level 1, you do not need to wear face coverings because there is no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19, however, recommendations from epidemiologists encourage continuing use of a face covering in appropriate situations, and to maintain vigilance.

Carers NZ recommends being prepared by keeping a supply of face coverings for everyone in your household, in your  emergency kit. For more information, go here.

Information on masks: Alert Levels 2, 3, 4

Face coverings are recommended in public spaces, especially in situations where physical distancing is not possible. Legally, you must wear a face covering on public transport and aircraft, however, you will not be stopped from travelling on public transport.

Face coverings do not need to be worn:

·         by people with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face difficult.

·         by children under 12

·         on school buses

·         by passengers of small passenger vehicles, such as taxis, Uber, and Zoomy

·         on charter or group tours

·         on interisland ferries

·         on private flights

·         by private contractors of air services such as top-dressers

·         in circumstances such as in an emergency or when people need to prove their identity or communicate with someone who is deaf.

If one of these reasons applies to you, you do not need to show a medical certificate or other documentation to prove why you are not wearing a face covering. However, it may give you peace of mind to have information available on hand. The Ministry of Health has provided exemption cards which you can download and print here.

More information on masks can be found here.

PPE Guidance

To keep you informed on current guidelines regarding gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) used by community care providers (includes aged residential care, aged-related community care, disability, hospice, and homecare) information can be downloaded here.

PPE information from the Ministry of Health: What’s important for you to know about PPE.

Feeling unwell in general?

If you have symptoms of a cold or flu you should get tested for COVID-19. Do not put off seeking healthcare. Contact your GP or Healthline. Healthline can arrange an interpreter if English is not your preferred language.

The flu vaccine is recommended and free for people who are vulnerable and most likely to get more severe symptoms. For a full priority list, go here.

Health and Disability Services Consumers’ rights

The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ rights continues to apply to health and disability services in the COVID-19 response. More information is available here.

WHO Guidance document

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published guidance ‘Addressing Human Rights as a Key to the COVID-19 Response’.

The guidance document highlights the importance of integrating a human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 response and highlights key considerations in relation to addressing stigma and discrimination, prevention of violence against women, support for vulnerable populations, quarantine and restrictive measures, and shortages of supplies and equipment. Read it here

Am I at risk?

If you have concerns about being at risk, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please telephone the free Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.

The situation in NZ is being closely monitored and regularly updated by the Ministry of Health.


Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other common illnesses such as a cold or influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Under current recommendations, even those with mild symptoms are encouraged to get tested. Anyone with any of the following symptoms should get assessed:

  • fever (at least 38˚C)
  • a new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell

Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea/vomiting, or confusion/irritability.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after a person has been infected. The virus can be passed onto others before they know they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.

If you have these symptoms call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.

Read more about COVID-19 assessment and testing

If you are struggling to breathe, this is a sign of possible pneumonia. Please get medical help urgently by calling 111 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have put together a comprehensive FAQ here.

Prevention – how to protect yourself and others

Simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you’re unwell
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, get tested
  • Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
  • Maintain physical distancing. Keep at least a 1.5 metre distance from people you don’t live with or who aren’t family / whanāu / close friends
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, or cough / sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.
  • Clean surfaces regularly.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping others’ noses
    • during and after caring for people who are unwell

More information on how to protect yourselves and others is here.

For COVID-19 health advice and information

Call 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453). It is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Callers are able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service. They have access to interpreters.

Use this dedicated number:

  • To register if you have self-isolated yourself
  • For any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, self-isolation etc.

For more information on caring for yourself and others who have, or may have, COVID-19 at home, download the Ministry of Health’s infosheet.

Controls at the borders remain for those entering New Zealand, including health screening and testing for all arrivals, and mandatory 14-day managed quarantine or isolation.

Accessible Information

For information and advice in other formats:

NZ Sign Language (NZSL) | Easy Read | Large Print & Audio

Also: Te Reo Māori, nine Pacific languages, simplified Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese All translations here

Information for Pacific peoples.